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2018 Grant Proposal Finalists Announced! 

We are very excited for our six deserving Leadership Circle 2018 Grant Proposal applicants who have earned a chance to compete for your vote. From state-of-the-art equipment to ground breaking research, we know you’ll be captivated by these inspiring proposals your vote has the potential to fund.

We look forward to your attendance at the Grant Proposal Presentation and Ranking Luncheon on April 19, 2018. Once again, we’re going to do great things – together!

Don’t miss your opportunity to have a direct impact on the world-class care offered at Phoenix Children’s. If you haven’t joined Leadership Circle 2018, now is the time to become a member, or renew your membership.

Proposal: Accessories to Existing Equipment for 3D Digital Neuron and Vascular Reconstruction
theresa-thomas

Applicant: Theresa Currier Thomas, PhD
Division: Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Translational Neurotrauma
Amount Requested: $55,878

I am seeking support for a one-time purchase of accessories to add fluorescent microscopy capabilities to our current MicroBrightfield (MBF) Bioscience’s integrated computer microscope (supplied by Leadership Circle in 2014). This system performs state-of-the-art three-dimensional (3D) digital neuronal and vascular reconstructions to fulfill critical needs by translational researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in the department of Child Health at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix. The goal of translational research is not just to treat the symptoms of neurological deficits, but also to understand why they occur and how we can prevent them. Often, pharmacological treatments improve the day-to-day life of children with neurological deficits; however, the long-term effects of chronic neurological dysfunction, pharmacological treatment, and impact of rehabilitation have not been studied on the structural level.

The fact that the pediatric brain is highly plastic (still changing), begs to challenge whether therapies targeted at structural changes, rather than functional changes can result in improved long-term benefitsAddition of fluorescent capabilities to this microscope will expand the type of methods we can use to identify the magnitude of structural alterations that underlie the functional deficits and the genesis of long-lasting symptoms arising from brain injury, epilepsy, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological deficits/diseases. Research generated from this equipment will address pediatric neurological deficits and how they change as the brain ages; however, the equipment has potential for much more than what is mentioned in this application. In experimental models of neurological deficits, the changes in neuron structure can be evaluated as a function of age, type of deficit, severity of deficit, pharmacology (short-term vs. long-term), rehabilitation, etc. All children with neurological deficits age, becoming adults that are an integral part of the work force and parents/grandparents; so translational research to understand and more effectively treat structural, and consequently functional, deficits serve the entire community on a professional and personal level.

Proposal: Building Education and Research Alliances: The Academic Research Associate Program
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Applicant: Toni Gross, MD, MPH
Division: Emergency Medicine, Research
Requested Amount: $110,000

Our vision is to be nationally recognized as one of the best for innovative research and medical education. Expanding research and academic programs is an enterprise-wide strategic area of focus. The aim of this program is not only to provide invaluable resources for the advancement of clinical research at Phoenix Children’s, but also to provide nursing and pre-professional students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a clinical research environment and learn firsthand the complexities of clinical research. We will build alliances with universities, nursing schools and paramedic training programs to continue integration with organizations committed to improving quality across the continuum of care.

The ability of Phoenix Children’s Emergency Medicine faculty to engage in investigator-initiated research, recruiting and enrolling patients, completing data forms, and managing databases, is limited. Competition with pharmaceutical and industry funded researchers, with significantly more resources, means that investigator-initiated studies may be prioritized last, and innovative ideas are lost. This hinders the advancement of research at Phoenix Children’s and impedes the opportunity for future funding. In this proposed new program, undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students will assist Phoenix Children’s faulty members who serve as principal investigators with clinical research study activities. Students will be able to participate in research studies throughout the semester with varying responsibilities including patient screening, data collection and entry, and journal manuscript development.

Proposal: An Automated, Real-Time Analysis Suite to Translate Genetic Discoveries to a Patient-Derived Human Brain Cell Model of Cerebral Palsy
Kruer-Michael-MD pxsm
Brandon Scott Guida-PhD

Applicants: Michael Kruer, MD & Brandon Scott Guida, PhD
Division:  Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Amount: $145,190

There are an estimated 20,000 individuals with Cerebal Palsy in Arizona, and at least 30% of those individuals are believed to have a genetic cause for their Cerebal Palsy. No new medical treatments for Cerebal Palsy have been developed for several decades, and better therapies are sorely needed to reduce the burden of living with Cerebal Palsy. Our National Institute of Health and Phoenix Children’s foundation-supported translational research program scans the genomes of children with Cerebal Palsy in order to identify ‘misspellings’ in the genetic code that lead to the disorder. Our team then studies the effects of these ‘typos’ in a child’s genetic blueprint in the laboratory. Our research has suggested that these genetic mutations cause brain development to go awry and lead to CP in many children.

Leadership Circle support for this project will help us to move our research from diagnostics and discovery to therapeutic development. Building upon our discoveries to date in this manner will allow PCH to continue to push the envelope for families with cerebral palsy both in the clinic and in the laboratory.  The data we generate will be used to determine how the genetic mutations we discover in Phoenix Children’s patients with cerebral palsy actually affect the structure and function of neurons at the earliest stages of brain development. The new insights that come as a result of these studies will allow us to then develop and test completely new therapeutics for Cerebal Palsy using human brain cells derived from actual patients with the condition.

Proposal:  Miniscopes: Seeing Brain Function for the First Time
Lifshitz-Jonny - FINAL2

Applicant: Jonathan Lifshitz, PhD
Division: Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Translational Neurotrauma
Amount: $64,471

This project will create a Miniscope Imaging Core within the Translational Neurotrauma Research Program. Miniscopes are a fully functioning fluorescent microscope shrunk down to the size of a sewing thimble, weighing three grams. With this innovation, the miniscope can be implanted on the mouse skull for in vivo imaging of the brain during behavioral tasks. Much like the adoption of MRI, miniscopes are advancing the way in which scientists observe and manipulate brain function. The Miniscope Imaging Core will be a community resource, allowing scientists across Arizona to answer tomorrow’s questions about brain health and disease.

This project will have no direct patient involvement or immediate impact on patient care. However, research is necessary to advance healthcare diagnosis and treatment by improving our understanding of disease. The project will have a positive impact on the research community throughout the valley, as miniscopes have emerged on the scientific landscape as a significant advancement in approaches to biomedical questions. A tremendous level of interest exists in the research community to use miniscopes, including faculty from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the University of Arizona, and Arizona State University. Opportunity exists to better understand autism, stress, depression, developmental disorders, and epilepsy.

Proposal: EMG and Footplate Analysis of the Young Athlete
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Hadi

Applicants: Heather Menzer, M.D. & Hadi Salehi, Engineer
Division: Orthopedics
Amount: $55,000

The Sports Medicine sector has begun utilizing the Motion Lab for assessments of post-surgical Anterior Cruciate Ligament  (ACL)  and Medial Patellofemoral Ligament  (MPFL)  and return to play criteria so that patients may safely return to participation in sports. There is extensive data supporting the need for objective measures for return to play criteria and this laboratory provides the basis for providing this objective measure.

Currently, Phoenix Children’s provides concrete objective measures regarding strength of muscle  groups but are providing subjective information as it relates to movement patterns and foot strike during running and jumping. The proposal will allow for equipment that will provide specific objective measures relating to foot strike and gait patterns, provide real time muscle response during activity to demonstrate if muscles are firing in correct sequence, and the ability to train the patient for the correct movement patterns. When we are able to provide specific objective measures in regards to movement, we are able to identify weaknesses and can prevent injury to these young athletes.  This equipment will be portable and will be transported into the community to sports and recreation teams/clubs to assess young athletes gait patterns and movement patterns to help identify weaknesses and potential injury patterns.   This equipment can also be used in the Motion Lab.  If we are able to address these weaknesses early we can prevent injuries.  This injury reduction is aimed at allowing the young athlete to remain injury free and potentially avoid having a potential life changing surgery.

Proposal: Life Flow Rapid Infuser to Treat Patients with Sepsis at Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Zeb-Timmons-MD pxsm

Applicant: Zeb Timmons, MD
Division: Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Amount: $91,250

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitalized children, killing almost 5,000 children annually in the U.S., more than cancer. Sepsis is expensive; costs to treat severe sepsis range from $65k-$85k per patient. It accounts for 16% of all pediatric health care spending (around $5 billion). Sepsis is treatable, sepsis deaths are preventable and the high costs of advanced treatment are avoidable. One of the current areas of strategic focus at Phoenix Children’s is the rapid identification and escalation of care for sepsis patients. We are currently members of the multi-institutional Improving Pediatric Sepsis Outcomes (IPSO) collaborative in an effort to be a national leader in sepsis care. Utilizing this device would contribute to this focus and demonstrate PCH as an innovator in addressing this complex problem.

Once the potentially deadly condition of sepsis is recognized, there are proven specific therapies, which if done quickly, can save a patient’s life. One such therapy is the rapid delivery of IV fluids to help support the body while antibiotics treat the infection. Very large volumes of fluid need to be given in a very short period of time. In most patients, these fluids cannot be given over an IV pump because it cannot deliver them fast enough. Currently, a push and pull technique to deliver the fluid which requires 2 nurses to perform, often is not fast enough, and exposes the patient to other infections because of repeated accessing of their IV catheter. A new product called the LifeFlow is a disposable rapid IV fluid infusion gun. This device can be operated at the bedside by one nurse, can deliver fluids significantly faster than the push/pull technique, and only requires one access of the catheter to deliver the fluids. We have done a brief trial of the product in our ED which was met with rave reviews from nursing and physicians. We are requesting a grant to fund a one-year supply of the LifeFlow device so we can demonstrate its effectiveness over a longer period of time.

This extended trial will serve as a basis for long-term purchasing and use. Based on historical sepsis data, we anticipate this device will need to be used approximately one time per day. Based on the available evidence, we anticipate the patients who receive fluids more expediently as a result of this device will have decreased ICU days, decreased hospital length of stay, and decreased costs of hospitalization. Most importantly, we anticipate the rate of death in sepsis patients will decrease as a result of this intervention.